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article imageHow does a small fish survive the Arctic waters?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 28, 2013 in Environment
The bald notothen is a small fish that lives in the freezing, icy waters of Antarctica. Scientists have figured out how the fish manages to survive in conditions that would kill most other sea creatures.
The bald notothen (Pagothenia borchgrevinki) is a cryopelagic fish of the Southern Ocean, found in the Weddell Sea, the Ross Sea, the Davis Sea, in Vincennes Bay, and around the Budd Coast, the Antarctic Peninsula, South Orkneys and South Shetland Islands. The fish is yellow with dark spots and irregular crossbars, and it grows to about 11 inches long.
What is remarkable about the fish is that it lives in water as cold as -2°C or -3°C, a temperature that would freeze any other type of fish or mammal. The reason for this is because the fish contains antifreeze proteins in its blood which prevent it freezing in the sub-zero water temperatures.
Little has been known about the special antifreeze in the fish. However, by comparing the notothen genes against that of the closely related tropical zebrafish (Danio rerio), scientists have been able to highlight 58 elements thought to play essential roles in icy water survival. Compared with its ‘cousin’ zebrafish, the notothen has genes that encode antifreeze glycoproteins, and modifications of pre-existing genes that help it to function at low temperatures.
The findings have been reported in the journal BMC Genomics in a paper titled “Model of gene expression in extreme cold - reference transcriptome for the high-Antarctic cryopelagic notothenioid fish Pagothenia borchgrevinki.”
More about Fish, Artic, Water, Freeze, bald notothen
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